When Dylan Russell unintentionally kills his ex-lover, Tommy, he knows he's in trouble. Then he meets a man named Mars Marsden who offers him a solution -- join the covert organization C21. An outfit made up of good men and women who ended up on the wrong side of the law, C21 now gives these people a chance to track and punish those criminals to whom the law doesn't seem to apply. Dylan should fit right in.
After meeting Mars' handler, Dylan learns Tommy was an arms trafficker. Somewhat reluctantly, he agrees to go undercover to help bring down the rest of Tommy's gang. After this dangerous induction into his new life, Dylan is sent for training.
But Dylan is a marked man. Not only are the police looking for him, but when one of Tommy's old colleagues discovers where Dylan is being trained, things get interesting. Can he and Mars survive the jobs they're sent on? And, more importantly, can their purely sexual relationship deepen into something more before the work they do tears them apart?
felt the alcohol hit his empty stomach and wondered if he should have
gotten something to eat first. "The hell with it," he muttered under his
breath, taking another drink. "If nothing else, this will help me
He'd almost finished the drink, and was contemplating getting another, when he became aware someone was standing by the table. Glancing up, he saw a tall, raven-haired man looking at him.
Without a by-your-leave, the man pulled out the other chair and sat. Dylan instantly flashed back to Tommy doing almost the same thing Saturday night. Scowling at the man, he said, "If you don't mind, I'm not looking for company."
"Unfortunately for you, Mr. Russell, I am. Your company to be exact. There's something the two of us need to discuss."
Dylan froze, wondering if the man was a cop. How else would he know Dylan's name. Still, to the best of his knowledge, a detective wouldn't approach him this way. He'd have come to Dylan's work, or his apartment. "What," Dylan asked tightly, "could I possibly have to talk about with you? I don't even know you."
The man leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table. "Thomas Samson," the man replied so softly Dylan barely heard him.
Dylan shook his head. "Never heard of him."
"Really? I beg to differ with you. I can explain why -- here. Or we can go somewhere more private to discuss his unfortunate demise and your part in it."
Dylan's blood ran cold. "I have no idea what you're talking about," he barely got out, before gulping down the last of his scotch.
The man took something from his jacket pocket, sliding it across the table to Dylan. One look and Dylan knew he was in trouble. The problem was, from whom. "How did you get this?" he asked once he could speak again.
Rather than answering the question, the man said, "Why don't we go for a ride."
Taking a deep breath, Dylan replied as if he really meant it, "Not until I know who I'm riding with." He knew he'd go with him, even if the man didn't reply, but he had to put up some sort of front, despite how terrified he was.
"My name is Garret Marsden." He barely smiled as he added, "My friends call me Mars. I work for C21."
"Never heard of it."
"We keep a low profile." Marsden stood, giving a nod toward the back exit to the bar. "If you would, please."
Dylan looked up at him. "Why the hell should I trust you."
Marsden chuckled. "You probably shouldn't, but given the photo -- and I do have duplicates -- you might want to at least hear me out."
"Damn it to hell and gone, I'm fucking sick and tired of people trying to blackmail me into doing things."
Resting his hands on the table, Marsden stated, "That's why you killed Mr. Samson."
Given that the photo in question showed him kneeling over Tommy, blood evident on the floor, Dylan couldn't deny what Marsden had said. With a sigh, he got up as well and followed Marsden out of the bar into the alley behind it. When they passed the bar's Dumpster, Mars said, "Give me your phone."
"Because the cops can use it to find you."
"Seriously?" When Mars nodded, Dylan didn't hesitate to hand it to him. Mars crushed it under his boot then tossed the pieces in the Dumpster.
There was a half-full parking lot directly across the alley. Marsden led Dylan to ...
"What the hell is that?"
"A 2000 Harley Softtail," Marsden replied proudly.
Dylan slowly walked around it, shaking his head, before looking at Marsden. "You expect me to ride on this ... thing? Is it even safe?"
"Never ridden before?"
"I value my life," Dylan muttered, although he had to admit the idea didn't scare him as much as might have. Maybe because I've got more to worry about than whether I'll survive until we get wherever he's taking me. And, strangely enough, I don't think it's to the closest police station. God help me if I'm wrong. Well, God help me no matter what.